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Garlic cloves ready for planting.

NOW IS THE TIME TO PLANT GARLIC– at least here in the Pacific Northwest, for mid-summer harvesting. For the last four years or so I have been planting five varieties: Inchelium Red, Chesnok and three unknown varieties; one softneck and two hardneck types started from one head each, originally grown by friends. I plant 25 cloves of each variety. It typically takes 2-3 heads to provide the largest cloves.

Sweet, poached garlic.

After planting the largest cloves I am left with a lot of medium and small sized cloves to use up.

Garlic cloves poaching in olive oil with bay leaves.

My solution for using all those orphaned cloves is to poach all them very slowly in olive oil until they are meltingly soft (place all the skin-on cloves in a heavy pan or metal bowl; cover with a lid and shake like mad. The skins pop off!). Use bay leaves as I did or any other herb of choice for a little extra flavor if it suits you. I end up with two wonderful products: garlic flavored oil (refrigerate) and soft, sweet cloves to mash into just about anything you would use roasted garlic for.

Happy planting!